Jaitley calls for transparency in electoral funding through bonds

ANI | Updated: Jan 02, 2018 19:57 IST

New Delhi [India], Jan 2 (ANI): Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday stated that the Electoral Bond scheme presented before the Parliament earlier aims to promote a cleaner and more transparent system of electoral funding.

"The funding mechanism of political parties needs to be honest and transparent. In the last 70 years, funding mechanism in this democracy has not been questioned. There was no clarity on the source or amount of funding, or where the money has been used. This is why we have proposed electoral bonds," Jaitley said to reporters here.

"Electoral funding consists of large sums of unclean and anonymous money. While we had incentivised donations through cheque, donors were skeptical of revelations being made on which party they were funding, and therefore, resorted to cash donations. An alternative to this is electoral bonds. The scheme is being implemented to reduce the cash involved in donations, and reduce anonymity," he added.

The bonds, Jaitley revealed, can be purchased in select branches of the State Bank of India (SBI), with a 15-day window provided between purchase and encashment. He, however, noted that all political parties must submit details of one account each to the Election Commission (EC), and only these can be used for dealing in electoral bonds.

"To keep a check on eligibility, political parties who had more than one per cent support in the previous elections can register with the EC. The bonds can be encashed only in these registered accounts. Parties will be required to declare the amount of donation received through bonds and file returns before the EC. All purchases are being facilitated only through bank accounts," he said.

However, Jaitley clarified that details of the party receiving donations would not appear on the balance sheet of the contributor, thus, ensuring privacy.

"In the past, we have noted that people are reluctant to disclose the amount of donation and who the amount is being donated to. This will not appear on the balance sheet," he said.

Earlier in the day, the finance minister in the Lok Sabha stated that the scheme of electoral bonds was approved by the government.

The electoral bonds will be an interest-free banking instrument, to be issued/purchased for any value in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1,00,000, Rs 10,00,000 and Rs 1,00,00,000 from select SBI branches.

The bonds under the scheme shall be available for purchase for a period of ten days each in the months of January, April, July, and October, as specified by the Central Government. (ANI)